Heart disease affects people of all ages, race and gender. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Luckily, there is a lot that can be done to achieve optimum heart health because studies show that healthy dietary and lifestyle habits are more important than your family history. We’ve boiled it down to four basic steps you can follow to keep your heart pumping strong!
If you’ve never smoked PLEASE don’t start. If you do smoke seek assistance from a reputable source that can help you stop. Research shows that this one step may play the single most important role in keeping your heart healthy. Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases HDL (good) cholesterol, damages the cells lining the coronary arteries and restricts blood flow to the heart. If you’re already a smoker, quitting can reverse some of the damage done.
Even moderate physical activity for 30 minutes on most days is beneficial to your heart. As your fitness level improves you can include more vigorous activities. Being active will improve circulation, lower blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, reduce stress and build strength, each being important for a healthy heart. Walk, bike, swim, dance – try something today that you enjoy and increases your heart rate!
Long walks, laughing with friends, reading a magazine… whatever helps you unwind, do it! Acute and chronic stress can lead to many bad habits that affect heart health, including smoking, over-eating and physical inactivity. Breathing exercises work exceptionally well and are easy to learn. You can even go to harristeeter.com and practice some with Dr. Russ!
Adopt an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Research continues to suggest that inflammation in the body (normally reserved for when responding to infection or injury) is an important contributor to atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty deposits build up in the arteries. Fortunately, we can decrease inflammation through diet. To achieve this, the majority of your calories each day should come from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, healthy fats (nuts, seed, avocado, extra virgin olive oil) and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (like Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, and sable). Soy foods, tea, and Asian mushrooms are also important for keeping inflammation at bay. Protein should come from eggs, low-fat dairy and poultry. The Mediterranean diet is an excellent example of an anti-inflammatory eating plan. To learn more about this heart-healthy style of eating visit harristeeter.com.